Jingoism is patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy. Jingoism also refers to a country's advocacy for the use of threats or actual force, as opposed to peaceful relations, in efforts to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests. Colloquially, it refers to excessive bias in judging one's own country as superior to others—an extreme type of nationalism.
The chorus of a song by G. H. MacDermott (singer) and G. W. Hunt (songwriter) commonly sung in British pubs and music halls around the time of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) gave birth to the term. The lyrics had the chorus:
We don't want to fight but by Jingo if we do
We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money too
We've fought the Bear before, and while we're Britons true
The Russians shall not have Constantinople.
The phrase "by Jingo" was a long-established minced oath, used to avoid saying "by Jesus". Referring to the song, the specific term "jingoism" was coined as a political label by the prominent British radical George Holyoake in a letter to the Daily News on 13 March 1878.
Probably the first uses of the term in the U.S. press occurred in connection with the proposed annexation of Hawaii in 1893 after a coup led by foreign residents, mostly Americans, and assisted by the U.S. Minister in Hawaii, overthrew the Hawaiian constitutional monarchy and declared a Republic. Republican president Benjamin Harrison and Republicans in the Senate were frequently accused of jingoism in the Democratic press for supporting annexation.
British artillery major-general Thomas Bland Strange, one of the founders of the Canadian army and one of the divisional commanders during the 1885 North-West Rebellion, was an eccentric and aggressive soldier who gained the nickname Jingo Strange and titled his 1893 autobiography Gunner Jingo's Jubilee.
The term was also used in connection with the foreign policy of Theodore Roosevelt, who was frequently accused of jingoism. In an 23 October 1895 New York Times article, Roosevelt stated, "There is much talk about 'jingoism'. If by 'jingoism' they mean a policy in pursuance of which Americans will with resolution and common sense insist upon our rights being respected by foreign powers, then we are 'jingoes'."
The policy of appeasement towards Hitler led to satirical references to the loss of jingoistic attitudes in Britain. In the 28 March 1938 issue of Punch appeared an E. H. Shepard cartoon titled The Old-Fashioned Customer. Set in a record shop, John Bull asks the record seller (Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain): "I wonder if you've got a song I remember about not wanting to fight, but if we do … something, something, something … we've got the money too?". On the wall is a portrait of the Victorian Prime Minister Lord Salisbury.
- Catherine Soanes (ed.), Compact Oxford English Dictionary for University and College Students (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 546.
- ""By Jingo": Macdermott's War Song (1878)". Cyberussr.com. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- "By Jingo". Davidkidd.net. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
- Martin Ceadel, Semi-detached Idealists: The British Peace Movement and International Relations, 1854–1945 (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 105.
- Kansas City Times, 14 February 1893, p.4 editorial: "Jingoism pure and simple."
- Strange, Thomas Bland, Gunner Jingo's Jubilee, London, 1893; new edition with an introduction by R.C. Macleod, Edmonton, 1988. Macleod, R.C., "Thomas Bland Strange," Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
- "For An Honest Election". New York Times. 23 Oct 1895. Retrieved 2012-09-30. The reference is found halfway down the article.
- This cartoon is reprinted in John Charmley, Chamberlain and the Lost Peace (Ivan R. Dee, 1989), p. 61.